I am asking because I really don't have anybody else to ask.
"Are the military regulations and traditions that prohibit Commissioned Officers from fraternizing with enlisted men designed so Officers will not become emotionally attached to men they must assign high-risk missions?"
Organizationally, the Commissioned Officer must accept orders from Higher and convert them to plans to be executed by Lowers. Those plans must comprehend strategic and tactical realities and must be designed to maximize changes of success with the secondary consideration of minimizing net-losses.
If your "buddies" happen to be occupying the salient which is the best launching point for an offensive, your duty as an Officer is to order your "buddies" to take the point of that offensive.
Humans, being fallible beasts who are able to rationalize actions that benefit themselves, are prone to dither and wait for their buddies to rotate out of that position or to order the offensive to be launched from a less tactically advantageous position to spare those buddies. Both of those options are "failures" in the sense that the most optimal course of action was not pursued.
As was suggested by an acquaintance who is a dyed-in-the-wool Marxist; Commissioned Officers are the fossilized remnants of the European Royal system where excess, male heirs were "purchased" position-and-kit and shipped off to distant countries where assassinating the chosen heir would be logistically difficult. Then the most senior surviving "spare" could be carted back and installed if the chosen one met his untimely demise.
He claims that "Commissioned Officers" are a legacy of the European "Class" system.
He claims that military traditions banning fraternization have nothing to do with the fact that wars involve spending lives like water and that "war" is something psychopaths (unable to have empathy for other humans) do well. And if you don't produce enough psychopaths by normal, mathematical chance you have to design a system that creates pseudo-psychopaths who will function as if they were psychopaths.
The Marxist's view of Commissioned Officers may be how the office started, but it seems likely that it would have fizzled unless there was some tangible benefit to the practice.
Comments will be much appreciated.
Or is it as simple as showing favoritism is one of the quickest ways to sow division and discontent in groups. You know, like having a favorite kid?ReplyDelete
There is a chain of Command. Respecting that structure is vital to carrying out the missions of the military units.ReplyDelete
Marxist tools insist on a chain of command as soon as the head strongman of the mob gains power. Witness Cheka, KGB, Stasi, et al.
In my opinion (being prior enlisted USAF) fraternization is more about “trust” than becoming emotionally attached. I have served with large numbers of enlisted and just a few officers and well as being the only enlisted with a large number of officers. For the enlisted you trust your leaders to give orders evenly and fairly. If your officers or senior enlisted fraternize with specific other lower grade enlisted it is perceived those leaders are showing favoritism towards those "special" friends. This results in a loss of trust of both involved parties. Having experienced and witnessed many instances of fraternization my opinion is flat out true. Those who adhere to the rules of fraternization more often see each party as more professional.ReplyDelete
OldSarg hits one of the most important factors in any relationship; trust. In the service trust can become a matter of life and death; for the enlisted it's " does this officer value me to the point of not 'wasting' me?" You may have to die but will it be unnecessarily?Delete
ERJ, I have not served in the military, only an amateur historian. But the Greeks and Romans (at least to a point in their histories) both elected their officers from within the citizen ranks and would have "known" each other pretty well.ReplyDelete
It seems to me, at least in the 18th and 19th Century, there was an element of classism, but there was also an element of chain of command as well. The chain of command stayed.
I will say that this is reflected in the civilian world. When I was an independent contributor, socializing with management was somewhat uncomfortable as you never knew "what" was being listened to and held against you. As a manager, I was aware of the item in reverse: people will more often than not say what they think management wants to hear. In social events as a manager, I would often not go simply to allow those that reported to me to "talk freely" without feeling like I was listening in.
Marxist is gonna marxist.ReplyDelete
I would think that the “classism” is fairly obvious. Enlisted are drawn from the non degreed part of society and officers must have at least bachelor degrees. You may find some exceptions but its the general rule of thumb. I was enlisted in the AF, once I got my BA, I was offered the opportunity to apply for a commission but cross over is relatively rare. You will rarely see an individual go from officer to enlisted. The only time I ever saw that was a prior enlisted lost his commission in a “ reduction in force” and was allowed to finish his 20 years at his prior enlisted rank.ReplyDelete
Same here. The first 1st Sergeant I served under had been RIF'd from Major in the reserves. That was the first time I had heard of such a thing. I was a young PFC then.Delete
It is possible for enlisted to get a commission but they are not treated as true officers. They are referred to as "mustangs" and they cannot advance past O-4.Delete
Mustangs have advanced to General Officer rank in USMC. I have known several Navy Mustangs who were Captains (O-6).
As for not being "treated as true officers"; perhaps not, they usually get far more respect from the enlisted folk and because they are usually older and more experienced than their peers, their peers frequently defer to them.
Then of course there are enlisted selected to attend service academies; their promotion opportunities are the same as any other academy graduate.
I had difficulty managing people I had befriended. Discussing corrective actions were either ineffective or damaged relationship.ReplyDelete
I am a former mustang officer (Army and the reserves). I am not a combat vet.ReplyDelete
Your Marxist acquaintance's characterization of the officer corps is typical Marxist BS, taking a kernel of truth and building a one legged stool. Yes, the British instituted a policy whereby officer billets could be purchased. It was an attempt to infuse civilian influence in their military after the rule of Oliver Cromwell. At times it lead to disaster. I recommend this book--
The officer is responsible for the mission. The senior NCO is responsible for the men (yes, MEN). A good officer realizes he will never have all answers. His job is to make decisions.
As mentioned above, the key word is trust. Trust is earned, and works both ways. IMO, there is not greater reward than giving an order an watching your troops willingly carry it out. With this trust comes a bond like no other. I recommend the movie "12 O'clock High".
There is a great Start Trek Next Generation episode on this subject, where Picard finds he can't send his love interest on a dangerous mission, so she transfers to another ship.ReplyDelete
I agree that those spouting about classism don't have a clue...
These days, officers come from many backgrounds, and a college degree is easy to get, and in many cases useless.
In the past, when officers had to purchase commissions and spend additional on a high lifestyle, then yes there was classism, but those days never happened in the US and they ended no later than WWI in other countries.
Andrew Wareham's series set in WWI does well at showing the changes in society then.
Maybe “classism” isnt the correct word but how do you explain the fact that promotion is not a linear progression from lowest to highest. You have 2 separate groups of people with one group superimposed over the other. A 50 year old Chief Master Sergeant is subordinate to a 21 year old second lieutenant.Delete
Technically "subordinate", yes. Realistically; far from it.Delete
Deleted scene from "We Were Soldiers"--Delete
Just because I brought up the movie, one more deleted scene. At the 2:19 mark yeah, that is Hal Moore with his wife Julia.Delete
Your marxist bud has no idea about the happenings in the Red Army in the early 1920's when the enlisted elected their officers from their ranks. Didn't work out well and was soon rejected.ReplyDelete
I understand that national guard type units elected officers in the Civil War?Delete
And even after. So?Delete
As anonymous 8:11 AM and anonymous 10:46 AM said.ReplyDelete
Plus, familiarity breeds contempt. You need people to do what you say and not waste time questioning combat time orders.
That being said, officers still have their favorites. Human nature to like the people that do the better job.
sam - army 75-79
To maintain integrity of order and service and to prevent even the appearance of favoritism between those leading and those being lead.ReplyDelete
It has always been about 'good order' and discipline. Good order being the ability to 'order' actions that are not marred by relationships and the ability to discipline any sailor regardless of status.ReplyDelete
Per OPNAVINST 5370.2D and U.S. Navy Regulations, the Navy’s policy on fraternization is clear. Personal relationships between officers and enlisted members which are unduly familiar and do not respect differences in rank and grade are prohibited and violate long-standing customs and tradition of the naval service. Similar relationships which are unduly familiar between officers or between enlisted members of different rank or grade may also be prejudicial to good order and discipline, or may be of a nature to bring discredit to the naval service, and are therefore also prohibited. Officer and Enlisted members are prohibited from engaging in such unduly familiar personal relationships regardless of the service affiliation or the service rules of the other person, including unduly familiar relationships with members of foreign military services.
Unduly familiar relationships create the potential for real or perceived conflicts of interest within the command, and are therefore detrimental to positive morale, unit cohesiveness and good order and discipline.
Training for war - for writers. Ltcol Kratman fought in various conflicts, taught at the US Army command school and has written some milsf books after retiring. I hope this is useful.
Thanks for sharing-- I've seen Kratman's commentary a number of places around the internet. He's certainly a live wire and his hard-ass persona is both amusing and instructive.Delete
Thanks to everybody for trying to give me an education.ReplyDelete
I appreciate it.
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